Twenty people required hospital transport for the personal injuries they suffered and three others were reported missing after an explosion at a Slim Jim meat products plant in Garner on June 9, according to officials.
According to Wake County Emergency Medical Services district chief Jeffrey Hammerstein, five of the injured were tagged as priority patients in serious condition. He said officials were searching for three people missing from the site, but it was unclear whether or not they were inside the building when the explosion occurred.
ConAgra spokesman Dave Jackson said that there were approximately 300 people inside the plant.
According to Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams, the injuries suffered ranged from burns to smoke inhalation. Emergency crews were keeping onlookers away from the area due to concerns about the smell of ammonia.
"There is a toxic cloud on and about the plant," Williams said.
At the time of a news conference held by officials, they said that firefighters were continuing to try to contain a small fire and an ammonia leak.
According to Williams, several people reported hearing an explosion before the building partially collapsed.
According to Jackson, approximately 900 people covering four shifts are employed by the 50,000-square foot plan, which is considered to be one of Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra’s largest plants. He said that he was unaware at the time how many workers were inside the building when the collapse occurred and the company had yet to determine the cause.
According to North Carolina Labor Department spokeswoman Dolores Quesenberry, the plant was last inspected in July 2008 and no violations were reported.